Although the wait was long, Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 3 is just around the corner. Differing from its previous setting, the third season will not take place at East High during the school year. Instead, the Wildcats are headed to a summer sleepaway camp to put on a production of Frozen.
Ricky (Joshua Bassett, Better Nate Than Ever) and E.J. (Matt Cornett, Zombies 3) might butt heads when the show first begins, but it doesn’t take long for them to get over their differences and build a genuine friendship. However, with the drama expected to unfold this season, will they be able to maintain their camaraderie?
Screen Rant chats with stars Joshua Bassett and Matt Cornett about their characters’ storylines and what Ricky and E.J.’s dynamic will look like in Season 3 of the show.
Screen Rant: Last season, Ricky was going through a little bit of a hard time. He was dealing with his parents’ separation, dealing with a breakup, and he was really just trying to come to terms with who he is outside of his relationship. In the third season, how is Ricky Bowen doing?
Joshua Bassett: Yeah, Ricky Bowen is tired of being tired. And I think he is, you know, ready to rip the band-aid off and have a summer of fun. I think, you know, we catch him sort of just putting a happy face on and being like, “You know, what? I’m just gonna change my attitude and make this summer the best it can be.”
Obviously, life has a way of catching up to you. But yeah, I think he’s just trying to make the most of the moment. And I think he’s realized that he’s lived in his head for a lot of the last two years. And now he’s like, “It’s summer camp, so let’s just live and have fun.” So that’s where you meet him, but, obviously, it’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, so lots of fun twists and turns down the road.
Screen Rant: Matt, EJ’s very different from the character we met in Season 1—he’s had a lot of great development. He had his own struggles last season. There was everything with Duke, and he was just kind of feeling lost. But he seemed like he was in a pretty good place with his friends, with himself, with Gina. What can you say is next for him?
Matt Cornett: Yeah, I think the great thing for him to start the season, you know, we start off and him and Gina are trying to just make the most of this new relationship they have. And he still has his moments of, you know, obviously, he didn’t get into Duke. And so he still has his moments of trying to impress his dad and prove to certain people that he is enough and that he is, you know, worth something. I think that was always a fear of his.
And I think you see that, in the sense of, he starts to shift his focus towards directing the show, but, yeah, I think it’s a very fun season for him. And he just wants to have fun at camp. That’s like all he wants to do. And just make it the last camp of just being a kid and getting to just have fun with his friends and with his new girlfriend. And then there are all kinds of things that ensue from that and new challenges he has to take from that.
Screen Rant: I also wanted to ask about the dynamic between both of your characters—between Ricky and E.J.—because in Season 1, they did not get off on the best foot. But in Season 2, they really did form a friendship. So what is that going to look like in Season 3?
Joshua Bassett: Yeah, I think it’s funny, because in a way, it mirrors a little, but not nearly as seriously, but I think Matt and I, as well as Ricky and E.J. are sort of like, cheering each other on, but at the same time, they’re like, looking over their shoulder, like, “I wanna be the best at this.” You know, there’s that sort of competitive nature.
And I think, Matt and I do that in terms of like, if I start working out and Matt starts noticing then he’s like, “I gotta get to the gym,” and I’m like, “Shoot, Matt’s been lifting! I gotta go.” But yeah, so I think that dynamic, obviously has twists and turns, and they’re still two dudes in theater. So there’s that competitive nature, let alone the romance and the drama, which no one will get into now, but yeah. It is fun to play with the dynamics of Ricky and E.J. and see how they evolve. And there’s a lot of spice in Season 3 that I think people are gonna dig.
Matt Cornett: Yeah, there’s actually a lot of moments where both of us are wearing tank tops in scenes. And so I’ll see Josh over in the corner starting to do push-ups, like, right before we film the scene, I’m like “Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah! Let me hop over here!” and then I start doing push-ups.
Screen Rant: You guys are doing Frozen this year. How are the roles and this play going to switch things up?
Joshua Bassett: I think the casting always does a fun job of forcing characters to be with different characters that maybe they wouldn’t have been with before. I can’t really give you much because we can’t reveal the cast, but it is so brilliantly cast and there’s so many funny moments that are just impeccable and it’s actually really fun to, like, now be on this third season with these characters and see how they’ve evolved and to see them be put into different roles and, you know, go from the top to the bottom or vice versa.
Are people getting opportunities or not getting opportunities? And how that deals with your image and ego and all that stuff. I’m not really giving you much of an answer here because I can’t, but I will say that it is really fun, how they cast everything and everyone in their roles just kills me. I am such a fan. So I’m excited for people to see.
Matt Cornett: Yeah, no, I mean, it’s perfectly—I mean, the writers do such a great job at casting specific characters in specific spots in the show. And I think, as Josh said, everyone fits it so perfectly—even, like, so many unexpected, you know, casting decisions.
But it’s also perfect because then each individual casting decision leads to its own little like, you know, small story about that, and you see, like, kind of the journey for each character through why they got that role and then what that means to them and the things through that and it’s actually—it’s funny, it’s heartwarming, it’s beautiful.
HSMTMTS Season 3 Synopsis
The Wildcats head to Camp Shallow Lake, a California sleepaway camp, where they and their fellow campers are primed for an unforgettable summer ripe with romance, curfew-less nights and a taste of the great outdoors. With a high-stakes production of “Frozen” on the horizon AND a drama-filled “docu-series” of the production, the Wildcats will attempt to show who is “best in snow” without leaving anyone out in the cold.
Check back soon for the rest of our interviews with the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series cast and crew, as well as our previous interview with Matt Cornett for Zombies 3.